The 20th of May 2017 was a red letter day for Middle East politics. Not only was Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, re-elected by a substantial majority to a second term of office, but it was the day that US President Trump, on the opening leg of his first foreign tour, landed in Saudi Arabia to a right royal reception and, within hours, was signing a multi-billion dollar deal with his hosts.
Turkey & Iran
An Iranian warning that it may attack militant bases in the troubled province of Balochistan threatens to bring Pakistan’s house of cards crashing down.
The 1979 revolution, also known as the Islamic Revolution, marked the end of the Pahlavi dynasty under the reign of Mohammad Reza Shah, and resulted in the birth of the Islamic Republic of Iran led by then Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (1979-1989). The Islamic Republic of Iran is a theocratic Republic with a Shiite Islamic political system based on “velayat-e faqih” [lit. ‘guardianship of the jurist’ or ‘rule by the jurisprudent’]. The supreme leader, otherwise known as Rahbar, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (1989-present) has ultimate control over key power structures and institutions from the legislative and executive branches of government to…
The news from Turkey following the referendum on 16 April is worrying. The coup attempt on 20 July 2016, in which rogue troops commandeered fighter jets and tanks to bomb parliament, led the Turkish cabinet to declare a six-month state of emergency. On 19 January, as the six months drew to a close, the state of emergency was extended for a further three months. Now, following the referendum, the Turkish cabinet has once again added three months to the extraordinary powers permitted the president and his government under the terms of the emergency legislation.
Since mid-July 2016 Turks have been living in a state of emergency, subject to the sweeping powers permitted the president and his ministers in this situation. Triggered by the coup attempt on 20 July, in which 240 soldiers, police and civilians were killed trying to stop rogue troops who had commandeered fighter jets and tanks to bomb parliament, the state of emergency was extended on 19 January 2017 for a further three months.
Emboldened by the misconceived policies of ex-US President Obama, Iran has become positively confrontational under President Donald Trump. Iran and the US always backed different sides of the wars in Syria and Yemen, but now they stand ideologically opposed on most issues involving the region. Early in February Iran tested a ballistic missile, claiming that to do so was not in contravention of its nuclear deal, but the new US ambassador to the United Nations called the test “unacceptable”. Washington put the Islamic Republic “on notice” and imposed sanctions on more than two dozen individuals and companies involved in procuring ballistic…
The Islamic State’s New Year’s Eve bombing of an upscale nightclub in Istanbul has fuelled culture wars in Turkey and Israel and laid bare aspirations among youth in socially restrictive Muslim societies for more liberal lifestyles.
There is a new brand of Muslim religious orthodoxy on the rise in places like Turkey, which seeks to engage modernity through the sincere religious belief of individuals. Neslihan Cevik uses the term “Muslimism” to set it apart from other trends. Neslihan Cevik‘s new book, Muslimism in Turkey and Beyond: Religion in the Modern World (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), identifies an important and fertile middle ground between fundamentalism and secularism. She discusses her research with STI in this interview.
Twin bombs in central Istanbul may not have targeted Besiktas JK’s newly refurbished Vodafone Arena stadium, but underscore the propaganda value of attacking a soccer match for both jihadist and non-jihadist groups. They also raise questions about counter-terrorism strategy. The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons, a splinter of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), claimed responsibility for Saturday’s blasts that targeted police on duty to maintain security at a match between top Turkish clubs Besiktas and Bursapor. Thirty-eight of the 30 people killed in the attacks were riot police.